Posted by: Jack Henry | March 18, 2021

Editor’s Corner: Minnesota

A few weeks ago, I sent out a list of Southern sayings. I received feedback from a dozen people, and the most interesting request I had was from a Southerner who married a Minnesotan. She mentioned the kooky phrases she hears up north and said her daughters have started their own Southern/Northern blend of phrases.

I looked into funny Mid-West and Minnesotan phrases. One of the articles I settled on was 9 Phrases Only Minnesotans Use. Another was 14 Midwestern Sayings That The Rest Of America Can’t Understand.

Before I go much further, though, I have to say that many of these phrases were familiar to me, though I’ve never been to Minnesota. Growing up in Seattle, we Washingtonians used a bunch of these phrases. I know Scandinavians moved to many of the states on Canada’s border (cold, rainy, and you can grow amazing tulips and daffodils). I think the phrases made their way west too.

I’ll start with the ones that seem to appear in both Minnesota and Washington, and in my next installment I’ll stick with Minnesota’s. (As usual, text in blue is mine; the text in black is from the two articles mentioned above.)


No. It’s not soda or Coke. It’s pop. Every flavor of carbonated drink is, as Minnesotans call it, pop. This is a general term to describe the type of beverage you would like. After you say you’d like a pop, then you clarify the type and flavor.

[KC – Go to any store in Washington and chances are you have a “pop” aisle. When I moved to San Diego, I got tired
of this conversation:

“I’m gonna go get a pop.”

“What?! You’re going to go get some pot?”

“No! A

California has broken me. I now say “soda.”]

“If I had my druthers…"

"Druthers" is a shortened way of saying "would rather." So "If I had my druthers" essentially means "If I had my way."

Usually when someone says this, they’re amping up to tell you how something could have been done better.

"He’s schnookered!"

If you’ve had one too many beers while out with friends and are excessively intoxicated in public, you’re "schnookered."

The term can also mean that you’ve been conned into doing something under a false pretense.

[KC – This is one my dad would use, but we always knew it meant somebody was really drunk.]

Uff Da!"

Sometimes spelled uff-da, offda, oofta, and ufta, "Uff da" is a Norwegian expression that upper Midwesterners utter when they’re experiencing sensory overload.

The next time you’re relieved, exhausted, surprised, or experiencing any other overwhelming emotion in the Midwest, say "Uff da!" — everyone will know what you mean.

[KC – And next time you’re in Washington, check out the bumper stickers and window stickers to count how many uff-dahs
you see.]

"You betcha!"

This positive and energetic phrase is used in a variety of ways. People say it when they strongly agree with someone, when someone else is right, to reply in the affirmative, and even in lieu of "You’re welcome."

"The weather sure is cold today." "You betcha!"

"That game on Sunday sure was a nail biter." "You betcha!"

"Are you feeling all right today?" "You betcha!"

[KC – I’m not sure about Minnesota, but in Washington you’ll often hear this coupled with “Yeah sure,” “Yah sure,”
or “Ya sure” first. So, the complete response from someone (instead of “you’re welcome”) is “Yah sure, you betcha!”]

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Editing: Symitar Documentation Services

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